“The Red Hat Society is social organization for women primarily over 50 years of age. It gives you someone to play with after you retire,” said Judy Gruenfelder — known as “Queen Floozy J” of the Adorable Fedora Belles.
The Marietta chapter has 12 members and meets at least once a month for social activities such as going to plays, movies and lunch. The ladies always dress in their red hats, purple dresses and jewelry. “Our colors are purple and red,” the Marietta resident said.
The Red Hat Society was started by Sue Ellen Cooper in California who was inspired by the poem “Warning” by Jenny Joseph, which depicts older women in purple clothing and red hats. Cooper gave her friend Linda Murphy a bright red fedora and copy of the poem for her birthday. Linda loved the gift, so Cooper gave numerous other friends the same thing, and the society evolved. Today, there are chapters worldwide. The organization’s website is www.redhatsociety.com.
Though the Marietta chapter makes frolic and fun, there is more to this group of women. After reading newspaper stories about different organizations giving back to the community, Gruenfelder, who has been a member of the society for 10 years, said, “I decided we needed to give back to the community.”
Three years ago, the chapter approached Golden LivingCenter, a skilled nursing facility in Marietta (behind WellStar Kennestone Hospital), about volunteering. “We liked them and they liked us. We started working there,” said Gruenfelder.
“We get dressed up like movie stars and go to these ladies (at Golden LivingCenter),” she said.
“It’s about these ladies in the nursing home. They’re all in wheelchairs, many of them in their 80s or 90s,” said Gruenfelder who retired from United Airlines as a technical consultant.
Through a donation from a former Red Hat Society member that Gruenfelder met while volunteering at Golden LivingCenter, residents received their own red hats. “All these ladies (at Golden LivingCenter) have red hats. Next they wanted necklaces and then they wanted these big rings. At their age they still want to look glamorous,” she said.
Several times a month, the chapter visits residents at Golden LivingCenter. The last Friday of each month they have a birthday party for residents. “They all just turn out. They flash that jewelry and wear those hats. It is amazing. It’s not about us. It’s about them,” she said.
“I have more fun than they do. Some of the ladies don’t have visitors at all. We get more out of this than they do. It’s so much fun,” Gruenfelder said.
“It’s amazing how the power of the red hat, some jewelry, a little flattery and silliness can make someone’s life so wonderful and meaningful at any age,” Gruenfelder said.